Does NFL Hazing Send A Bad Message?

Just weeks before the National Football League (NFL) regular season kicks off, rookies are making headlines as the targets of hazing at training camps. Dallas Cowboys newcomer Dez Bryant took a stand against rookie hazing, refusing to carry veteran teammates’ shoulder pads after practice.

“I’m not doing it,” Bryant told ESPN. “I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

Not long after, photos surfaced of rookie Tim Tebow’s crazy new hairdo after teammates left just a halo of hair around his head. Why? Solely because he is a newcomer to both the NFL and Denver Broncos this season. 

And hazing is not new to the NFL — typical activities range from carrying equipment, to crazy haircuts, and even getting taped to the goal post.

While some teams consider this old tradition that is nothing more than fun and games, others see it as a potentially dangerous situation. Anti-hazing groups bring up a viable question: does NFL hazing promote the idea of hazing to college and high school students?

Certain NFL players are often role models to people of all ages. When professional athletes are seen subjecting their younger teammates to hazing — defined as “subjection to harassment or ridicule” — teenagers and young adults may find it acceptable to do the same.

Hazing is a practice that occurs regularly on college campuses, causing both physical and mental harm — and even death in some cases. Common college hazing rituals involve excessive drinking and other potentially harmful situations. 

Looking at the damage hazing has caused in the past, many question if the activities listed above truly help new teammates bond with team veterans, or if they are simply not worth the risk.

While not all NFL teams take part in hazing, it appears plenty of teams still subject rookies to the humiliation. If you feel NFL hazing sends the wrong message, sign this petition and explain why you think it’s time to put an end to this potentially dangerous tradition.

photo credit: LenDale White twitpic of Tim Tebow's haircut


Sylvia M.
Sylvia M6 years ago

This article's headline is about as stupid as they come.

Nicholas B.
Nicholas B.6 years ago

Hazing involves humiliation and/or harassment. There is absolutely no excuse for either. I don't care if someone believes that it is just a harmless tradition. Humiliation is not harmless. Hazing needs to stop now.

I am not only talking about the potential for injury, but the fact that it is wrong to humiliate people unless they did something bad, and that is not the reason anyway, it is just in the name of "tradition". Tradition is a sad excuse of a reason for hazing. Whenever I see someone hazing another person, I am going to tell them to stop. I hope you do too.

Wendy: Good point about hazing no longer being fun when humiliation is involved. The problem is that hazing is fun for the disgusting person committing the act, but it is not fun to the person being hazed. If it is not mutually fun, it is not fun at all. Simple as that.

Erin R.
Erin R7 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Ann Eastman
Ann E7 years ago

Hazing has long been defended as "fun" and/or "traditional" but its true roots are the exercise of control by a person or group in a power position to humiliate someone less powerful. That has never been harmless.

Amanda B.
Amanda B7 years ago

I didn't know what hazing was until I read this, funny thing is I was under the impression that these kind of things are called Bullying and Harrassment! I have never liked sports since I was a kid for this exact reason, they talk about teaching people to work as a team, I thought team work was about working together, supporting and encouraging each other, I really must do better because I seem to have got it wrong!

Morgan G.
Morgan Getham7 years ago

Hazing has a long tradition in schools (even high schools) all across this country. Freshmen are traditional targets. It died out a bit after World War II and Korea when college freshmen veterans starting under the GI Bill were not about to take any cr*p from snot-nosed college kids younger and less able to defend themselves than the GI's.

But it still goes on, and is very difficult to identify and eradicate, because it is often the key to social acceptance within a particularly prestigious group. If you don't play the game, you get ostracized. I predict that the footballer who refused to take part in the tradition will NOT be popular with his teammates for years to come, no matter how well he does on the field or how well he behaves. He's PAID to play football; but he pays his dues to "join the club" in another currency altogether, and that he failed to do. Sad, but true in many cases.

Juan Pablo de la Torre

Abusive footballers. Who would've thought so?

Linda Mills
Linda Mills7 years ago


Salome Waters
Salome W7 years ago

Hazing is a lousy way to welcome a new member of a team. Teams should be based on friendship and "team"-work. Hazing is the old "societal" layered way of keeping out people not considered of good enough family to belong to clubs, or go to schools, or belong to teams.
It also has a firm British background on the "Playing fields of Eton" and other such British schools (plus all the schools that followed on the Eton model but were for those less wealthy or from a family more nouveau riche. The cruelty of those students, who targeted the new children, the little ones, can not be believed. And so it went, and so it goes and every time a hazing system is shut down, somehow, in the same school or team, it comes back in a different form and one it goes.
And lest we think that this is primarily a male pursuit, let me disabuse you. Girls school, colleges, universities, in sororities, sports teams, and just in life, when the class freaks are identified they are hazed (teased, tormented, physically accosted and on rare occasions are killed.
Yeah, hazing sounds like a dream - or perhaps A NIGHTMARE!

Eileen H.
Eileen Honan7 years ago

Time for some of the NFL to grow up